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Indeed, whether in two dimensions or three, Jacobs solicits a curious, active viewer rather than the passive spectator cultivated and catered to by the dominant commercial cinema. “Most people want to go to the movies and relax and eat popcorn and have an experience that lifts them somehow out of their chairs, but passively,” he says. “I’m after those strange people who want something else, who want to actually utilize their senses and see what kind of direct experience is possible for them — not an experience where you identify with so-and-so in a movie, but what kind of experience is available to you, sitting there; your eyes, your brain being put through something. You have to deal with what’s coming at you.”
Periodically in Anaglyph Tom, Jacobs gives Edison a rest to weigh in on the current economic crisis, including an entr’acte that juxtaposes clips from the 1949 film version of The Fountainhead against C-SPAN footage of Alan Greenspan’s mea culpa over the subprime mortgage crisis. It’s an unexpected digression that recalls the political nature of much of Jacobs’ work (his 2004 masterpiece, Star Spangled to Death, was a 46-years-in-the-making, seven-hour found-footage epic about the buying, selling and selling-out of America) while reinforcing his structuring principle that everything old is new again.
Not surprisingly, Jacobs says he feels a strong kinship to the earliest moving image pioneers — not just Edison — but the still photographers Eadweard Muybridge and Étienne Jules de Marey, who, he says, he wishes could see his own work. “Radical — you know what that means?”
“From the center, from the very beginning, out against. I grew up seeing radical art. I was also interested in film and this sense of radical movement, of starting again. From the main highway that’s developed over the years, what else is possible? Starting from the roots of something again — that’s what made me a radical filmmaker.”
Ken Jacobs presents Toward The Depths of The Even Greater Depression, a Nervous Magic Lantern performance, REDCAT on Mon., October 12, at 8:30 p.m. An evening of Jacobs’ new and recent work screens at the UCLA Film & Television Archive at the Billy Wilder Theater on Thurs., October 15, at 7:30 p.m.The Whirled screens together with Aza Jacobs’ The GoodTimesKid at Los Angeles Filmforum at the Egyptian Theatre on Sat., October 17, at 7:30 p.m. Anaglyph Tom (Tom with Puffy Cheeks) screens at Los Angeles Filmforum at the Egyptian Theatre on Sun., October 17, at 7:30 p.m.
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